Hand and Foot Card Game

OBJECTIVE OF HAND AND FOOT: Play the hand and foot while making the needed melds.

NUMBER OF PLAYERS: 2-7 players

NUMBER OF CARDS: Five 54-card decks (52 cards + 2 Jokers)

RANK OF CARDS: A,K,Q,J,10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2

TYPE OF GAME: Canasta/Rummy

AUDIENCE: Adult


INTRODUCTION TO HAND AND FOOT

Hand and Foot card game is a game related to Canasta. In Hand and Foot, players are dealt two sets of cards: the hand, which is played with first, and the foot, which is played after. This game does not have standard rules and is played with a variety of variations. The game generally has 4 players consisting of 2 partnerships. However, this game can be played with any number of people. This game is also closely related to Pennies From Heaven.

The instructions below are best fit for a 4 player game with partners.

PLAYERS, CARDS, & THE DEAL

Hand and Foot is typically played as a partner game, partners sit across from each other at the table. Choose one pair to deal first. They must shuffle the cards then one person takes the deck. The dealer proceeds to deal each player a stack of 13 cards and pass them clockwise until each player has a hand. The other partner does the same and deals each player the foot. These two stacks of cards must remain separate.

The remaining cards are put in the center of the table and form the stock pile. The top card is flipped over face-up beside it and starts the discard pile. If the card happens to be a 3 or a Joker (wild card) it is buried within the stock and a new card is flipped over.

‘Foot’ stacks are to be placed around the stock and the discard pile. Players pick up their ‘hand.’ The play begins with the ‘hand’ dealer.

The deal passes left and the game consists of four deals total.

MELDING

The objective of Hand and Foot is to get rid of all your cards by forming them into melds as in any traditional rummy game. A meld is formed with 3 to 7 cards of equal rank. A seven card meld is called a book or a pile. Books are squared up, unlike a fanned meld still in the process of being added to. The card on top of the book indicates the kind of meld (discussed below): red card for clean books, black card for dirty books, and a joker for wild books. While teams may have books of the same rank, a new meld cannot be started until the same ranked meld has been completed first. Typically, one partner has the completed melds, in addition to red threes, in front of them and the other has the incomplete melds.

The cards are placed face-up on the table in front of the player. In this variation of Rummy, melds belong to partners as opposed to the individual player. This means either player in a partnership may add to any of the melds they both create, unless the meld has reached seven cards.

Players score points for cards they have melded and lose points for cards left in hand. The play ceases once one player has managed to play both their ‘hand’ and ‘foot’ in totality. That player has ‘gone out.’ There are three conditions player’s must satisfy before going out:

  1. The partnership must have completed 2 dirty books, 2 clean books, and 1 wild book.
  2. One player in the partnership has picked up their ‘foot’ and played at least a single turn from it. (The one who hasn’t played their total foot)
  3. You must receive permission from your partner to go out, meld the remainder of your cards but one, and discard the last card. If your partner denies you, you may not go out.

Red & Black Threes

Melds are formed with cards from A to 4. Threes, however, may not be melded in a normal way.

Red Threes count for a player if it is laid down on the table with their melds, however, it counts against them if it is not. Red threes should be immediately placed face up on the table and a new card must be drawn from the stock. Red threes may be found in your hand, drawn from the stock, found in the foot, or picked from the discard. If your opponents ‘go out’ (get rid of all their cards) before you have grabbed your ‘foot,’ and there is a red three present, that three counts against you.

Black Threes can only be used to block the next player from picking out the discard after you discard it. Black threes left in your hand count for minus five points on your score. Black threes cannot be played- only discarded.

Twos & Jokers

Twos and Jokers are wild cards. Wild cards may be used to substitute any card in a meld, granted there are twice as many natural cards in the meld as there are wild cards. A meld may be made entirely of wild cards, though. This type of meld is required before ‘going out’ and winning a particular deal.

Types of Melds

  • Clean melds have no wild cards present.
  • Dirty melds have at least a single wild card, and no more than one if the meld has less than 6 cards.
  • Wild melds have only wild cards present.

CARD VALUES

Below are the values of cards in the game. These values count for you (or your team) if they are melded and against you (or your team) if they are not at the end of the game.

Jokers: 50 points each

2s & Aces: 20 points each

8-King: 10 points each

4-7: 5 points each

Black 3s: 5 points each

Bonus Points

Both teams can collect bonus points in addition to the card values. Red threes count 100 points toward your score if they are on the table and 100 points against your score if they are in hand.

Each Clean Book: 500 points

Each Dirty Book: 300 points

Wild Book: 1500 points

‘Going Out’: 100 points

Each Red 3: 100 points

Meld Minimum

Each deal poses a minimum requirement for the total point value of the cards which make up the first meld created in a partnership.

Deal 1: 50 points

Deal 2: 90 points

Deal 3: 120 points

Deal 4: 150 points

Red 3s and complete book bonuses do not count.

THE PLAY

Play begins with the player to the left of the ‘hand’ dealer and passes clockwise. Play continues until someone ‘goes out.’ Before your turn, red threes must be placed face-up on the table. The number of red threes placed on the table must be replaced by and an equal amount of cards drawn from the stock.

Taking Turns

A typical turn consists of:

  1. Drawing two cards form the top of the stock pile.
  2. Melding cards- start a meld or add to a meld (yours or your partners)
  3. Discard a single card to the top of the discard pile, face-up.

Red threes drawn from the stock must be directly placed face-up on the table and a new card must be drawn from the stock pile.

You may not start a new meld and meld cards on your turn you must choose which action you wish to do

If you do not wish to draw two cards from the stock you may draw seven cards from the discard. The whole pile may be collected if it contains less than seven cards. If you wish to draw from the discard these are the following requirements:

  1. The top card of the discard cannot be a (black) three
  2. You must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard
  3. (At least) three cards must be immediately melded: 2 of equal rank already in hand and the top of the discard

Complete turn by discarding a single card to the discard pile.

The first meld set down on the table must meet the minimum meld value requirement (this is the total sum of the value of the cards played). Multiple melds may be started to reach this point requirement. If you are picking up from the discard pile, the three mandatory cards to meld may count toward this stipulation, however, the other 6 cards drawn do not count. Cards in the initial meld may be wild cards.

Partners are not permitted to have two incomplete melds of equal rank. A book must be completed before a new meld of equal value is started.

The ‘Foot’

After you get rid of all the cards your ‘hand’ you may pick up your ‘foot,’ and continuing playing as usual. The foot may be picked up in one of two ways: all cards in the ‘hand’ are melded, the foot is pick up, and a single card from it is discarded OR all but one card of the ‘hand’ is melded, the last card is discarded, and the foot is picked up.

In this version of Hand and Foot there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.

END GAME

The play ceases when either:

  • A player successfully goes out, under the stipulations discussed above OR
  • the stock pile is depleted and players do not wish to draw from the discard.

If your partner does not permit you to go out, after melding you must have two cards left: one to discard and one to continue playing with.

At the end of the game player’s score their books and melds, including bonuses that apply. The team with the greatest number of points after four deals wins.

OTHER RESOURCES:

Did you know that your skills in this game can help with the card game blackjack?

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90 thoughts on “Hand and Foot Card Game”

  1. When trying to get to the foot can you make a book with a wild card and then add another card all in the same turn in order to get rid of cards to pick up foot?

    • Hi Sandy, there are no restrictions on how many cards a player can be melded in a turn. If you complete a book and are still able to play a meld this is legal. However, no more than 7 cards can be added to a meld. When a meld reaches 7 cards it is a book, and can not be added to.

    • Hello Theresa,

      In this version of Hand and Foot there is no penalty for discarding a wild card in order to get to the foot.

      • If it is just two people playing, i understand rules are same, you just play for yourself and not a team, however, would I still need to use 5+ decks of cards?

        • Hi Tina, yes the game requires the full 5 decks. I suppose you can try to play with a lesser amount of deck, but the rules for 2 people still call for the same number of decks.

    • Hi Carol, I do not believe there is a set penalty for this in Hand and Foot. I would suggest offending players must pick back up the wrongly melded cards into their hands. I suppose any kind of penalty could be set into place at the start of the game as long as all players agreed upon it. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Terry, I do not believe so. In hand and Foot a player may draw 2 cards from the stockpile, or 7 cards from the discard pile as long as they follow the needed requirements to do so. A player cannot choose to draw less than 7 from the discard (but may end up drawing less if there are not 7 cards in the pile to begin with) and cannot split their draws between the two piles.

    • Hi Sue, I believe I understand your question but correct me if I am wrong. In your example, you are trying to make a meld of seven 5s, two 4s, and a wild card. This is impossible for a few reasons. A meld must consist of cards all of the same rank, and can only consist of 7 cards in total. You could make two separate melds with the cards in your hand. A completed book of 5s and a meld of two 4s with a wild card.

  2. If you have to discard a wild card what is the option of the next player to pick up that wild card? Do they have to have 2 wild cards to pick up or just 2 of any kind of cards to pick up.

    • Hi Patti, because the rules state that the cards have to be of equal rank of the card drawn, I would say you have to have two cards of the same rank to draw the wild. All three cards have to be melded that turn in regards to the other rules for drawing the wild from the discard pile.

    • Hi Carolyn, while not required, I often use a scoring sheet to make scoring easier. The scaring is only done once during the game though, at the ends, so a cumulative or running score is not kept.

    • Hi Jodi, to answer your question, yes. In order to go out three requirements need to be met. One, the players must have completed all the needed books. Two, both players need to have their feet and the player not going out must have played at least one turn from it. Three, the partner of the going out player must agree for them to go out.

  3. Can a wild card book be laid without all seven cards and added to throughout that hand?

    When a wild card is used to freeze the deck how long is the deck frozen even though seven cars above it have been removed?

    • Hi Al, hopefully I understand your question but if not let me know. To complete a wild book 7 wild cards are need. A book is just a meld until a 7th card is played. To answer your first question, yes you can play a wild meld and add to it throughout the game, but a wild book must have 7 wild cards in it. The second question I am a bit confused by. I don’t think there is any freezing of the deck in this game, maybe you are thinking of Canasta?

  4. In hand and foot, if a card in the stock pile is accidentally face up, do you take the card when it is your time to draw or bury it in the stack?

    • Hi Lynette, if you find a faceup card in the stockpile after the game is underway, I would look through the remaining stock to make sure there were no other cards faceup and reshuffle. Burying it would also be a suitable action, as long as all other cards are facedown in the stockpile.

  5. Recently the opposing team “went out” and I and my partner had 75 points combined in our hands. We only had 50 points in melds on the table as all other melds had been made into books. We also had 4 red threes. We wanted to to take a red three off the table (minus 100) and keep 25 of the points in our hand to count (plus 25). This would equal a net minus 75 points. The other couple said we could not do that and had to break up a book to cover the 25 point difference, thus costing us the 300 point bonus for that book. Or break up a clean book and lose 500 points. I should note we keep score on a “net basis”. Example: If one team has three dirty books and the other has four, the team with four only gets 300 bonus points. The team with three books gets zero bonus points. Your thoughts?

    • Hi Bob, so I don’t think I understand the question, but I will try to answer things based on my knowledge and understanding. Please let me know if this does not help and I will do everything I can to answer your question correctly. I am not sure how you are getting the forth red three, red threes cannot be melded traditionally so if you were holding a red three or drew it, it should already be played on the table. Secondly, I have never heard of breaking a book for any reason, so I am not sure what your friends were referring to with this. Also, the game should end once a team goes out, so if your friends have already gone out, you would not get to place any more red threes from hand or make melds at all. Hopefully, this helps, but if not let me know.

  6. If one team has a red book of 10’s can they make another book of red 10’s or a book of dirty 10’s? therefore there would be 3 books of 10’s for one team.

    • Hi Joan, yes it is technically possible for a team to have 3 books, as long as one of them is a dirty book. This is highly unlikely to happen but still possible. Just remember a completed dirty book may not hold more than 2 wild cards, so at minimum to pull this off a team would need to get 19 of the 20 tens belonging to the game.

  7. My question is this: While playing Hand & Foot, my partner layed down a starting dirty book consisting of one wild card and two 9’s. When my turn came, I had 7 nines in my hand so I laid them all down as a red book. Our opposing team stated that it was not allowed since we already had a dirty book started consisting of 9’s. Can you shed some light on whether we were correct in making a red book out of the 9’s. Thank you.

    • Hi Trish, I looked into your inquiry and did find a source that states that you cannot start a new meld of the same rank until the previous one is finished. Hope this helps and sorry for the confusion. The rules will be updated to reflect this new knowledge.

    • Hi Carl, I’m a little confused by your question but I will try to answer. A player’s turn can consist of making a meld or adding to one they or their partner has previously made. so if you are asking if they can make a meld and then add to it after they have already made it no, they’ll have to wait for the next turn. A meld in itself can be added to as long as it has less than 7 cards. Once a meld has 7 cards it must be squared up and declared a book. I hope this helps and answers your questions.

    • Hi Carl, a player’s partner may add to a meld, as teammates share melds together. Opponents cannot add to the other team’s melds, however, if that is what your question is asking.

    • Hey Linda, you cannot add any card to an already completed book. Once a book has reached its maximum number of cards it must be squared up and cannot be added to or taken from.

  8. WHEN PICKING A CARD FROM THE DISCARD PILE & YOU HAVE THE TWO CARDS OF EQUAL EAUAL VAULE, DO YOU HAVE TO START ANOTHER BOOK OR CAN YOU ADD TO THE ONE BOOK ALREADY STARTED?

    • Hi Richard, you cannot start a second meld of the same rank as another you have started until the first meld of that rank has been completed into a book.

    • Hi Doug, there is not an official rule for how to break ties in Hand and Foot. I may suggest playing an additional game or making a house rule for a tie-breaker! Best of luck!

  9. Question: If, on his turn, a player draws his two cards from the stockpile and both cards are red threes, how many more additional cards is the player entitled to draw because he drew two red threes — 2 cards more or 4 cards more. In other words, when his draw is over, should he have drawn a total of 4 cards, or a total of 6 cards?

    • Hi Beverly, so for each red three that is placed in front of a player with their melds, a replacement is drawn. so if the player in question played the two red threes in front of him, he would then immediately draw two replacement cards. I hope this helps.

  10. If I have six 5s in a meld and the player before me places a 5 on the Discharge Pile, may I pick up the top 7 cards in the Discharge Pile and play the 5 (top card) on my six 5s to complete a Clean Book? Of note, I have no other 5s in my hand when this situation presents itself.

    • Hi Helen, I saw both your questions and hope I can answer them both here. If you mean drawing from the discard pile then yes. You may draw the top seven cards of the discard pile if the top card is a wild card, if you have two wild cards, and you immediately meld three or more wild cards including the wild card drawn. I hope this helps!

  11. Can you pick up the pile with 2 of the same cards in your hand and open the melds for your team before anything else is tabled on your side.? Also can you count the top card toward meeting your opening count?? Also what happens when you only have wild cards for a discard…do you forfeit the game.??

    • Hi Jean, I am not sure what cards you are referring to drawing. if it’s just the top 2 of the stock then yes it is possible to immediately start a meld. Just remember it has to meet the requirements of the opening meld required for the round. If you are referring to the discard you may also draw the discard, if there are less than 7 cards in the discard you must draw the whole discard. The top 3 must be melded (or all if there are less than 3 cards) and these cards can be counted towards your meld minimum. You may also discard wild cards the same as any other, no need to forfeit.

  12. i have a book of 6 10′, when its’ my turn can I place a wild card on the book and make it a dirty book then keep an additional 10 in my hand and play it down later as a count card on a later turn. Object to make a dirty book total of 3 books instead of making a red book that is not needed because you already have 2 red books

    • Hi Tom, yes you can always add a wild to your books. You are not forced to play the 10 even if you have it in your hand.

  13. Hi Amber,
    Thanks for all your answers!
    If I have a meld of 6 5s and also 2 more 5s in my hand when another 5 is discarded, I think I cannot pick up the discarded 5, because I would need to use it to complete the book first and then I would only have two more 5s left that would not be enough to start a new meld, correct?

    • Hi Carl, thank you! It is my pleasure to help in any way I can. As for your example, you are completely correct. Unless you have a 3rd 5 to use to start the meld you would not be able to draw the 5 from the discard.

  14. I have hunted and hunted for the answer to the following question. During an initial meld does a clean book count for the face value? In other words, if I lay down seven sixes as an initial meld will that count as 35 points and seven kings as an initial meld count as 70 points?

    • Hi Patsy, so sorry to hear about you having trouble finding this answer, but yes when you place a meld (or a book if all 7 are laid down at once) they use the sum of the values of their cards for the total value of the meld. When scoring you will also count the additional points for completing a clean book, but that is in addition to the meld value. I hope this helps!

    • Hi Meryl, Hand and Foot is one of the more complicated card games on our site. I am so sorry to hear you are having difficulties with the instructions. if I can answer any questions to help I would be more than happy to. We also have video instructions on how to play HAnd and foot on our youtube channel that may help as well. Here’s a link to that if interested. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pouzMMQ6-u0
      I hope this helps!

  15. Are you allowed to have four cards in your hand that match and instead of starting a meld and laying down the 4 like cards you pick up the discarded pile and make your meld? We play with this guy that always holds most of his cards and can have 5 or 6 cards that match but he holds them and then lay’s them all out and goes out. My question is can he pick up the discarded pile when he already has enough cards to start a meld?

    • Hi Jan, yes this is allowed. In order to draw from discard, you must hold at least 2 cards of the same rank as the discard, and you may hold more. YOPu must also meld at least 3 cards, but can also meld more as well. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Sue, yes, 5 decks are used for all number of players 2 through 7. The game is best played with 4 players in 2 partnerships. I hope this helps.

  16. Hello, when playing the last round one team declared they went out. This caused one team to mix their hand and foot and cards together believing the game was over. Shortly the team realized they had only completed their hand and still had the foot. Since this was the last round would the game be a draw for both teams at the time since the team who mixed their cards together couldn’t recreate their hands and feet? Or is there some penalty on the team that caused them to mix it by mistakenly claiming they were out. This was a confusing situation that popped up. Thanks for any help.

    • Hi Andrew, there are not any official penalties for this circumstance. I might suggest either a replay of the round or a score penalty for the offending team. I hope this helps.

  17. Are runs (7 cards of 1 suit in order, not including wild cards or threes) played in Hand and Foot? If so, can a card be picked up from the discard pile if it can be used to make the run? For example if you held a 7 and8 of hearts and a 9 of hearts was discarded, could you pick up the 9 to play with the 7 and 8 to start a run?
    Also if the stock pile is depleted but the game is not over, do you reshuffle the discard pile and continue the game?

    • HI Ann, Sequences of cards such as you described above are not used. In Hand and Foot, melds consist of equal ranked cards, and never cards of the same suit in ranking order. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Cheryl, to go out measn to have no cards in hand. If you have no cards in hand you have already gone out. I hope this helps.

    • Hi Nancy, you can pick up your foot by discarding both types of 3s. However, if you want to play a red 3 you cannot pick up your foot, as playing a red 3 down in front of you causes you to draw a card.

    • Hi Jill, 3s are not allowed to be melded. Red 3s give you a bonus score at the end of play for each one face up in front of you and penalize you for ones in hand. They cannot be formed into a book. I hope this helps.

  18. I play Hand & Foot in one club, sub in another & may be starting my own with some friends who are interested, & we may have different rules. Each club has their own variation on rules. One example (& there are several): in one club, we have to pick up the entire discard pile. In the other, we can only pick up 5 cards. Here you are saying that you pick up 7 cards. My understanding is that there are no set rules, yet in some of your answers, you call certain plays as not legal. My question for you is this: How do we know which rules are optional (that can be changed) and which rules are basic ones that could not or should not be changed ?
    Thank you so much

    • Hi Ruthann, this is a very interesting question indeed. The Hand and Foot rules on the site (as far as my research would have me believe) are the standard rules. I do try to be mindful of variations when I answer questions but there are so many that this becomes very difficult unless they are specified in the question asked. That being said, if you have any variations or questions pertaining to the standard rulings of hand and foot please feel free to either ask here or for more in-depth responses you can always email the site at info@gamerules.com. Thank you for your question, and I hope you have a lovely day.

  19. I am confused about the rule that says you can either add to a meld or start a meld on your turn but you can’t do both? AM I understanding this correctly. In other words, If I finish a meld of 8’s on my turn I cannot then start a new meld of another number.

    • Hi Sharon, that is correct. You can either add cards to an already established meld or create a new meld, but you cannot do both in a single turn. So for your example, you can finish your meld of 8s, and then you will have to wait till your next turn to start a new meld. I hope this helps.

  20. The group I play with, when making a meld and they have 6 cards on the table, they place the 6th card sideways noting to the other players that the need only 1 more card to make a canasta. Also, you cannot pick up that 7th card from the pile, you have to draw it from the stock. We only pick up the top card from the pile, not 7 cards. Are you aware of any of these rules? Thank you.

  21. My question is about discarding wildcards. The rule is you may not play any meld that forces you to discard a wild card. If you have any natural cards in your hand, you may not discard a wild card, you may only discard a wild card when a wild card is the only option. Our version of hand and foot we do not meld wild cards, and wild cards placed on the discard pile are the same as discarding a black three. My question: if holding three wild cards and one king, then drawing two kings from the stockpile, then play 3 kings for my meld leaving me with three wild cards, then discard a wild card, is this legal play? I am told that I must discard one of the kings, and not play the three kings for my meld or play 2 kings and a wild card then discard the third king. This rule effects the making of red or black books, especially when you need a red book to go out. I’ve not found any rules regarding the discarding of wild cards, any thoughts?

    • Hi Raymond, in the version of Hand and Foot I am familiar with there is no rule stating you cannot discard a wild card. As per the rulings you stated in your comment, it would seem it is not a legal play. The ruling you posted says you cannot play a meld that forces you to discard a wild card. Again, I am not familiar with this ruling though. Please let me know if there is anything further I can help you with.

  22. Recently we started plying hand and foot. The rules we used stated that at the close of a dirty book, the wild book couldn’t have more wild cards than natural cards, in other words 4 kings plus 3 wild cards would be a book. During play, could a person start the book with 2 kings and a wild card and on a later play add another wild card? Now there are 2 kings and 2 wild cards. The wild cards do not exceed the number of kings. Is this a correct reasoning?

    • Hi Jean, In the rules, it states that there must be at least double the number of natural cards to wild cards in a dirty meld, but this may just be a difference in the variation of rules. For your question, no you cannot have more wilds than natural cards when melding. you must always follow the rules of having double the natural cards than wild cards.

  23. I am new to this game and still trying to learn the rules, so I apologize if this is a dumb question. Why would one partner need permission from the other partner in order to go out?

    • Hi Vicki, you need your partner’s permission in order to go out because once you do go out the game ends. Your partner might have cards they wish to meld for more points. I hope this helps.

  24. Is there any rule that way you CAN NOT pick up the discard pile when you first meld? I’ve read where you can use the top car in your meld total and I’ve read where you must have your total meld not including the top card but our friends say it’s a rule that you have to have your meld played and you can not pick up the pile at all until your next turn, assuming a card is played that you want.

    • Hi Deborah, I am a little confused by your question. If your question is can you pull from the discard before you have made any melds, the answer is yes. There may be variations that do not allow you to draw from the discard pile, but in the traditional game, a player may draw from the discard pile instead of the draw pile as long as the three requirements are met. These are: The top card of the discard cannot be a (black) three, You must hold 2 cards of equal rank as the top card of the discard, and (At least) three cards must be immediately melded: 2 of equal rank already in hand and the top of the discard. I hope this helps, and if you have any other questions or need further clarification please feel free to reach out again.

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